The other day, a couple of my friends were talking about gambling in casinos.
I don’t have much practical gambling experience; I haven’t even been to the “gaming section” of our two local integrated resorts. However, I know of friends who have made frequent “secret” visits to them.
Having studied advanced statistics, the mathematician in me tells me to avoid them and most other forms of gambling like 4-d and toto. Well, of course you can win from time to time but in the long run, the house has to win and the only way to win at gambling is to either become the house or to play like a professional player.
Because I am neither, I choose to stay out. 🙂
The games in casinos are designed such that the odds are in their favour. Unless you have a statistical edge, you can never ever win if you play there often enough.
Take for example a game that most of us will know well, roulette.
Roulette has either 37 or 38 numbers. 18 black, 18 red and 1 or 2 green.
If you bet on red or black, the chances of it coming out is less than 50% (because of the green number). When you win, your payout is only what you bet. Assuming bets are fairly even between red/black, the house will breakeven 36 times and win 1 game out of every 37 games.
Of course, if you play just 37 games, the numbers will not come out evenly but in the long run (say 100000 games), the distribution of the numbers that come out will be fairly even as long as the roulette wheel has not been rigged. This is all that the casino needs because they exist 24/7 and it is only a matter of time before actual results follow the theoretical expectation.
Professional players can win because they will try to adopt a strategy such that the statistical edge is in their favour. This is impossible in games like roulette and the jackpot machine but is possible in certain card games like blackjack and poker.
One way is to use card counting techniques to keep track of the cards that have come out so that you have a better probability of predicting the cards that are going to come out.
Casinos are not stupid so they also have anti-card counting measures in place to spot this. It’s pretty much a cat and mouse game and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can be sure you are very much the mouse. 😀